Most Oklahoma businesses with employees are required to pay for workers' compensation insurance (WC or workers' comp insurance). The insurance provides compensation to employees who suffer work-related injuries.
Here are some basic facts that you need to know about workers' comp insurance in Oklahoma as a business owner and employer.
If your Oklahoma business has just one part-time or full-time employee, you're generally required to carry workers' compensation insurance. There are, however, some exceptions, such as:
In addition, many business owners, such as sole proprietors, members of an LLC who own at least 10% of the company, and stockholder-employees of a corporation who own at least 10% of the corporation stock are not required to be covered by workers' compensation insurance.
The Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Commission (WCC) is the primary state agency that handles workers' comp claims. Most of the law for WC insurance is contained in Oklahoma's Administrative Workers' Compensation Act (Title 85A of the Oklahoma Statutes).
In addition to the Act, there are also administrative rules (Title 810, Chapter 25) that cover workers' compensation in Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, workers' compensation insurance is available through private insurance companies. If your business is unable to obtain coverage through other private insurers, you can get it through the CompSource, which is the state's insurer of last resort.
There is also an option to self-insure, but this may not be advisable for smaller businesses, in part because it requires that a lot of money be set aside to cover potential claims.
You are responsible for promptly providing necessary medical treatment to the employee. As the employer, you have the right to choose the doctor, but you must provide treatment within five days of learning of the accident or injury. An employee also has an option to get emergency treatment at the employer's expense.
If an employee misses more than three days of work due to a work-related injury, you must file a CC-Form-2, Employer's First Notice of Injury, with the WCC. The form must be filed within ten days of your receiving notice of the injury. You also should inform your WC insurance provider of the incident, and, when requested, promptly provide payroll and other information that may be requested by that provider.
Beyond these initial steps, there are subsequent steps to the WC claims process not covered here.
If you intend to deny an employee's WC claim in whole or in part, you must file CC-Form-2A, Employer's Intent to Controvert Claim, where you state the reason(s) for the denial. Normally you must provide a copy of the completed form to the employee within 15 days. However, you can request an extension of this deadline in order to investigate the claim.
There potentially can be a couple levels of hearings for controverted claims. The first hearing is before a judge appointed by the WCC. That decision can be appealed to WCC itself, and, beyond that, to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
If you suspect workers' comp fraud, immediately contact the Workers' Compensation Fraud Investigation Unit of the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General.
If you don't carry workers' compensation insurance you may be subject to a penalty of up to $1,000 per day. Your business also can be subject to lawsuit brought by the injured employee in district court. Failure to pay proper compensation to an employee or any penalty assessed by the WCC can result in your being legally prohibited from further employment of workers.
There are also potential penalties for failing to file the first notice of injury on time, not paying an injured employee's medical bills on time, improperly terminating temporary WC benefits, improperly terminating an injured employee, and workers' comp fraud.
You can check the Administrative Workers' Compensation Act and WC administrative rules for more details.
There are many other workers' compensation requirements for Oklahoma employers that are not covered here, such as putting up posters about workers' compensation coverage where employees can see them.
For more information, see the Nolo website section on workers' compensation and the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Commission website.